A successful Everest climber, former Telstra Business Woman of the Year finalist, and 30-year resources sector veteran has been recognised by the sector for her outstanding achievements. Karen Alexander was presented the Exceptional Woman in Queensland Resources Award in Brisbane today by Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations Grace Grace, Queensland Resources Council (QRC) President Rag Udd and Women in Mining and Resources Queensland (WIMARQ) Chair Maria Joyce before a state-wide audience of more than 900 people.
They were attending, or viewing live via webcast, the annual QRC/WIMARQ International Women’s Day Breakfast and Resources Awards for Women presentation, hosted by BHP Billiton.
Karen, Manager of Strategic Alliances – Mining with Hastings Deering was one of just two females among 800 male engineering students while studying for her mechanical engineering degree, and one of the first two females to ever complete this degree at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT).
And now, she is Hastings Deering’s first senior executive sales business leader. Among her other firsts are being the first female fuels and lubricants product application engineer to be permitted access to underground mine services at Mount Isa Mines, and the first female fuels and lubricants product application engineer at Shell before leading Shell’s global technical business.
Originally from New Zealand, Karen and her 83-year-old father, who just missed out on climbing with Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953, reached the summit of Mount Everest in 2014 to complete his ‘unfinished business.’
Karen was recognised for her 30-year involvement with QUT in 2006 when she received the Dean’s award for Outstanding Alumni Contribution. Since 1999, Karen has been a member of the Faculty Academic Board for Science and Engineering and an Engineering Course Advisory Group member since 2013.
‘Since my graduation I have actively promoted women in engineering and non-traditional occupations,’ said Karen. ‘I have done this through school visits, presentations, career workshops, television, newspaper, QUT advertising and QUT women in engineering and resources programs,’ she said. ‘My biggest reward is seeing women move freely and naturally into resources careers as if the pathway was natural and expected – not something unusual or to be noted. I am working to implement some further mentoring programs with Hastings Deering that I envisioned after attending the Caterpillar Women’s Leadership Forum.’
Karen has also been involved with the Sunshine Coast University, being an External Advisory Board Member for its ENACTUS program since 2001, a not-for-profit global student program encouraging students to take classroom theory into the real world and develop projects to benefit communities.
QRC Chief Executive Ian Macfarlane congratulated Karen and all the winners in this year’s awards.
‘These awards celebrate and showcase the depth of female talent in Queensland’s resources sector, and provides industry with ambassadors and mentors, particularly for their female colleagues and women and students thinking about entering the resources sector,’ he said. ‘Diverse workforces, just like safe workforces, are more productive, innovative and profitable. Particularly in hard times, our sector needs to ramp up productivity and innovation, and it’s well documented that these go hand-in-hand with employing people from different backgrounds, cultures and genders. The attendance at eight separate functions around the state to witness the presentation of these awards is a clear demonstration of our sector’s continued commitment to its goal of at least 20 per cent women in non-traditional roles by 2020.’
The awards have been presented by QRC and WIMARQ since 2006.